Life has been going on cruise control for the past many months. Other than work related stories, which unfortunately I could not share publicly, especially in writing, life has been pretty uneventful. There were some setbacks with the extended family, but generally everything has been going smoothly.
You know what they say about the calm before the storm!
Gabe reached 3 this last month and was brought to the regular checkup at the government clinic. We use the government facilities out of principle (since I technically paid for it) and not because I was a cheapskate. Part of the checkup, we had to go through the development checklist with the nurse. This is the checklist that asks if your child can perform tasks on par with his age. Gabe missed half his milestone in this checkup, which was not too much of a concern but the nurse asked that we come back for another visit in 6 months instead of a year. Otherwise, Gabe is given a clean bill of health.
But we can see the concerned look of the nurse during the visit. We also compared Gabe to other kids of his age and younger, especially one of his good friends in babysitter’s place. The kid who is one year younger can speak and express himself but Gabe still points. I guess that is the straw that broke the camel’s back so we got an express appointment with the pediatrician. By then, I had to attend business meetings in the US, so the wife had to bring the kid to see the doctor. Our concerns – autism. Paranoid parents, you say.
Pediatrician ran an M-CHAT assessment. It is a questionnaire for the parents to determine autism (which you can take online). Wife called me after the test and Gabe failed. She was a bit devastated but inside me, I was kinda expecting this result.
Right after that, things went into a frenzy as he has to get further specialist assessments such as the pediatric psychologist (didn’t know one exist), ENT, Occupational Therapist and Audiologist.
Of all the specialist, the pediatric psychologist have the final say. He will be the one to finally determine the state of the child when it comes to autism. I was still in the US when the appointment with the child psychologist took place and Gabe is in the borderline between normal and ASD. That sounds bad, but I guess manageable.
When all said and done, we are told to be prepared to sacrifice more time for this child as he needs the help and attention. We are welcomed into the world of autism rehabilitation (if I could use that word). We were told that regardless of his development status (whether he has autism), the speed we get into the next steps are crucial. If he is normal, then it will speed things up for him. We were told to get in touch with various organisations with the referral letter by the child psychologist so that we can get the necessary help and education. Generally these are the things that we need to do
- Start Occupational Therapy
- Start Early intervention
- Start Speech Therapy
- Get him out of babysitter and into a normal kindy with small classrooms.
It is going to take a lot of our time to arrange for these “classes” and we are clueless on what we need to do at home. I think that is the most important question from us because we spend a lot of time with him at home and there has to be something that we can do.
But all said and done, what is important is the acceptance vs denial. Looking at Gabe and comparing him to other kids, he is weird. When I tell people that he has autism and weird, other older folks say to give him time and he is just slow. Sometimes kids just need time to start talking, they say. I think they are right when just referring to speech. I somehow see things that Gabe does, which seems weird like his obsession with spinning wheels and fans. His lack of eye contact and affection. He does not respond to his name. I sum it up by saying that he seems to live in his own world. I guess the parents are more accepting than other people, which is normally the other way around – so this should be a good start.
It is a new world we are entering.
By the way, the child psychologist immediately gave us the registration form with the welfare department so that he gets the “special privileges” card. Hopefully this helps to offset some of the cost of rehabilitation since I get some tax deduction.